Entries Matching: Public Safety
This week, Public Knowledge, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and several other public interest groups, urged the FCC to ensure that neither government agencies nor wireless providers shut down communications in an emergency.
The comments, also signed by the Benton Foundation, Free Press, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Minority Media Telecommunications Council, and the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, respond to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry, which asked about what procedures should be followed when government wanted to shut down communications during a crisis.
As Kara noted last week, the FCC is asking you to comment on when it's appropriate for government agencies to cut off cellular services in the interests of public safety. For a variety of reasons, my initial answer to that is "rarely, if ever." Aside from definite knowledge of a cell phone-triggered bomb, or a freak occurrence where the 800-900MHz range somehow interfered with a pacemaker, it just doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. There's a host of reasons why, and a lot of them were argued in the wake of BART's October shutdown of cell service in anticipation of a protest. But this isn’t about BART; it’s about preventing future unnecessary shutdowns.
is attributed to Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge:
“The Federal Communications Commission yesterday asked
for public comment to determine the proper policy when government authorities
intentionally disrupt wireless service.
The notice came about as a result of the actions on August 11, 2011 when
the San Francisco-area Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cut off wireless
service, claiming a threat to public safety.
“We are pleased that the Commission is looking into
this very important issue. On August 29,
2011, Public Knowledge, along with Broadband Institute of
California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice,
Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, Minority Media and
Telecommunications Council, and National Hispanic Media Coalition, asked the
Commission to rule whether the action by BART authorities was legal under the
Today, Public Knowledge, joined by a wide variety of consumer, civil rights, and civil liberties groups, urged the FCC to immediately pass rules that would prevent local authorities from ordering a shutdown of wireless services the way that BART did earlier this month. As Harold’s earlier blog post points out, we don’t even need to get to the (extremely pressing and important) First Amendment issues to find that BART’s actions violated the law—the Communications Act, to be precise.
The announcement by the White House that it would support reallocating the D Block – the 10 MHz of spectrum left over from big broadcast band auction of 2008 (the 700 MHz Auction) – to public safety use rather than auction it for commercial use defies conventional wisdom on two fronts.